All right the 2014 MLB regular season is in the books. Let’s hand out some hardware.
1. Mike Trout
2. Jose Abreu
3. Victor Martinez
4. Michael Brantley
5. Jose Bautista
After deserving the win for the last 2 years, Trout will finally actually win it this year (and probably unanimously). Weirdly, he’s having his “worst” year of the 3, but his “worst” is still pretty damn good. 3rd in HRs, 6th in OBP, 3 in SLG and 3rd in wOBA is pretty damn impressive for CF. His speed and defensive numbers are a bit down, but the total package he brings makes him the best.
Based only on offense, Abreu and Victor might be 1-2 on the list. They are 5th and 2nd in OBP, 1st and 2nd in SLG, tied for 1st in wOBA and 4th and 8th in HRs. They don’t offer the additional speed and D that Trout does, so they rank a little below him, but they are phenomenal hitters. Not too shabby for a guy in his 1st big league season and a 35 year old.
Brantley might raise some eyebrows at 4th, but he’s one of if not the most underrated players in the league (along with a teammate we’ll get to later) and a bit of a poor man’s Trout. He finished 3rd in AVG, 4th in OBP, 9th in SLG and 6th in wOBA. Combine that with 20 HRs, 23 steals (and only caught once) and the ability to play any position in the OF and you have a hell of a player.
AL Cy Young
1. Felix Hernandez
2. Corey Kluber
3. Chris Sale
4. Jon Lester
5. David Price
It is SO close between Felix, Kulber and Sale.
Felix: 2.34 ERA, .94 WHIP, 2.61 FIP, 5.24 K/BB, .556 OPS against in 230.2 innings
Kluber: 2.44 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.35 FIP, 5.27 K/BB, . 624 OPS against in 235.2 innings
Sale: 2.17 ERA, .97 WHIP, 2.57 FIP, 5.33 K/BB, .567 OPS against in 174 innings
If Sale had thrown more innings I might’ve gone with him. The 60ish inning gap between he and Felix/Kluber push them ahead for me. I give it to Felix thanks to the slight edge in ERA, WHIP and OPS against but you can’t go wrong either way. If guessing if you told casual baseball fans to guess 1 AL team had the 2nd best position player and pitcher in the league it would take quite a while for them to guess it was Brantley and Kluber.
Lester and Price both dominated in the AL East and then continued to do so after both being traded on July 31st. The offseason bidding wars for them (Lester this year and Price next) should be fascinating.
AL Rookie of the Year
1. Jose Abreu
2. Yordano Ventura
3. Jake Odorizzi
4. Masahiro Tanaka
5. George Springer
Some award picks are slam dunks while others are legitimately difficult decisions. This one falls into that 1st category. Abreu was one of the best players in the entire league regardless of rookie or not and is the easiest call on the board this year. Yeah he’s 27 and played professionally in Cuba so he’s got way mor experience that most rookies, but he still qualifies so he easily wins.
Ventura rode his fastball with the highest average velocity in the league (96 mph+) to phenomenal rookie year for the Royals. Odorizzi looks to be part of the next wave of solid Rays young pitching. He was an afterthought in the Wil Myers trade but broke out this year, striking out over a batter an inning with an ERA just north of 4 in 168 innings.
Tanaka and Springer both missed a ton of time with injuries, but we’re so awesome when they did play that they make the end of my ballot. Tanaka was on track to be in the Cy Young discussion and Springer hit 20 bombs with a .468 SLG in just 345 plate appearances.
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Andrew McCutchen
3. Giancarlo Stanton
4. Buster Posey
5. Jonathan Lucroy
I’m always somewhat hesitant to give pitchers the MVP because Pedro didn’t win one in 1999 so if HE didn’t win it how can I award it to any other pitcher? But just because of a couple moronic voters back then, I shouldn’t not give someone the high honor of my fictional MVP vote if they deserve it. And Kershaw deserves it. The whole “he only pitches once every 5 days so he doesn’t effect the game as much as a position player” argument isn’t all that valid to me. Kershaw faced 749 batters this year which is more than any batter has plate appearances. Now, a pitcher doesn’t have the same defensive value that a position player can have, so it’s not a perfect comparison, but it’s close enough that if you have a dominant performance like Kershaw without a dominant offense performance, I think it’s perfectly fair to give a pitcher the MVP.
Kershaw was downright silly this year. 1.77 ERA. 1.81 FIP. 10.85 K/9. 1.41 BB/9. 7.71 K/BB. .521 OPS against. Yes he has the benefit of pitching in a pitchers park in the NL and barely missed out on cracking 200 innings since he missed the first month, but he’s been absolutely filthy.
McCutchen and Stanton are basically a coin flip for 2nd and 3rd. They’re very close in OBP, SLG, and wOBA. Stanton with the edge in HRs and McCutchen the edge in steals. They also had nearly identical numbers of games played and plate appearances. Also pretty equal defensively. I’ll give McCutchen the slight edge because he plays center field. They’re both phenomenal.
The last few years was Molina vs Posey. Now it’s Lucroy takes Molina’s place. Catchers that can hit are so rare these days that it’s a huge edge if you have one. It’s even bigger if they are elite hitters and good defenders like Posey and Lucroy. They’re nearly identical in OBP and wOBA, while Posey has the edge in SLG and HRs. Lucroy is the better defender but it’s close. Stanton and McCutchen are a coin flip and so are these two.
NL Cy Young
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Johnny Cueto
3. Adam Wainwright
4. Jordan Zimmermann
5. Stephen Strasburg
I gave Kershaw the MVP, so I kinda have to give him the Cy Young right? Just copy what I wrote for him in the MVP section and paste it here.
Cueto edges Wainwright in innings, ERA, WHIP and K/BB to finish 1st in the “Guys That Would Win The Cy Young If Clayton Kershaw Was From This Planet” category.
Nats teammates Zimmermann and Strasburg round out the top 5. They’re 2nd and 3rd respectively (after Kershaw…obviously) in K/BB and along with Kershaw and Wainwright are the 4 NL pitchers with a FIP below 3.
NL Rookie of the Year
1. Jacob deGrom
2. Billy Hamilton
3. Travis d’Arnaud
4.-5. I don’t even have picks here because there is no one really worth it.
For most of the year, the Rookie of the Year was Hamilton’s to lose. And I think he lost it. deGrom ended the year on an absolute tear to finish with a sparkling 2.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and striking out over a batter an inning in 140 innings.
Hamilton is an elite defensive CF with game changing speed, but he really struggled to the finish the season and ended it with a sub-300 OBP (.292) and even though he had 56 steals, he got caught 23 times which is a pretty huge number. He had a solid rookie season, but he’s late season struggles and deGrom’s emergence swings it for me.
As I mentioned in the NL MVP section, I love catchers that can hit. His overall numbers aren’t amazing (.242/.302/.416 with 13 HRs), but he finished strong with a .474 SLG .344 wOBA in the 2nd half, which is good enough to grab 3rd on a pretty weak ballot. The Mets could be solid next year if everything breaks right and deGrom and d’Arnaud should be a huge part of it.